Friday, 17 August 2012
The Possible Health Legacy of the Olympic Games
I would first of all like to congratulate the UK authorities for staging a magnificent Olympic Games in London in 2012; and Team GB for a stellar performance across a range of disciplines reflected in their overall medal haul. However, according to my adjusted figures, the best overall nation in the games was Jamaica. To give them the number one spot, I simply divided the number of medals they won in the Olympics (12) by the current population of Jamaica (2.89 million) to arrive at a figure which wasn’t surpassed by any other major nation competing when calculated on the same basis.
The IOC President, Jacques Rogge, should be worried as he surveys the final medals table about the unevenness of the spread of medals throughout the world. India, Indonesia and Malaysia, for instance, didn't win a single gold medal from a combined population size of 1,500 million people. Shouldn’t the 2020 games be awarded to Mumbai or Jakarta in order to bring these countries fully into the games?
There is a legacy to be had for the people of East London in that they inherit all the structures built to accommodate the games, which includes a 80,000 seater stadium, aquatics centre, velodrome, shopping centre and the accommodation blocks in which the athletes were housed during the games. This should help to breathe new life into a part of London which was a run-down area prior to the Olympic Park being constructed there to accommodate the games.
The British authorities are assuming that the London 2012 games will be a financial success based on their estimated recovery of £13 billon from an expenditure of circa £9 billion. Whilst their projected figure for financial recovery is just an estimate at this stage, it appears to demonstrates that a well -planned games can be a financial success without unduly burdening the taxpayer.
The heroes created during the games, such as Ussain Bolt of Jamaica in sprint events, Sir Chris Hoy of GB in cycling, and Oscar Pistorius, the double leg amputee from South Africa, for competing in the 400m track event, are good role models for young people interested in sport to follow. Young people need positive role models; and all the athletes who competed in the games should in the coming weeks and months visit schools in their area in order to encourage more young people to take up sport.
The games can leave a worthwhile legacy for the UK, and the wider world, only if it inspires enough people to take up sport at a young ago, and thereby give them the daily amount of exercise they require in order to establish and maintain good health. Adequate daily exercise is one of the building blocks of good health. People who get involved in sport at a young age will hopefully keep it as a component for the rest of their lives irrespective of whether or not they compete for their counties in an Olympic games.
Of course governments do need to provide adequate funding and facilities for sport in order to reap the benefits later on. Providing funding for sport makes sense when the corresponding savings on crime, drug abuse and illnesses caused by inactivity are taken into account. Governments need to take action on funding now in order to benefit from the goodwill created by the games; and to ensure a positive legacy is probable rather than just possible.